Made for ABC-TV, Steven Spielberg's first solo directing credit is an exquisite piece of streamlined suspense and action that clearly demonstrates that the 24-year-old filmmaker was already in full control of his vision.

A largely non-verbal narrative follows a milquetoast everyman (Dennis Weaver) on a business trip that draws him out of the comfortable suburbs and into the barren desert. Still smarting from a fight with his wife--in which she complained he wasn't assertive enough--Mann cuts in front of a diesel truck. Several miles later the vengeful truck reappears, horn blaring, to terrorize the lone motorist. The big rig tries to run Mann off the road, push him into an oncoming train, and crush him when he frantically tries to get help at a roadside tourist trap.

Finally, his battered family sedan overheating, Mann turns onto a butte and aims the car directly at the waiting truck.

The truck, a huge, dark, exhaust-belching juggernaut, takes on a malevolent personality all its own and compares well with such elemental Spielberg beasts as the shark in JAWS and the T-Rex in JURASSIC PARK, though Weaver also deserves kudos for his virtual one-man-show as the reluctant David pitted against a mechanized Goliath.

Steven Spielberg was directing TV episodes for Universal when a contact in the mailroom showed him Richard Matheson's script. Spielberg campaigned for and won the directing assignment, completing the project for $300,000. Like many an American TV movie, DUEL went into theaters in Europe, but unlike other recycled television product, it became a major hit.

DUEL won the Cariddi D'Oro for its debuting director at the Taormina Film Festial in Rome and a Grand Prize from the Festival du Cinema Fantastique in France, in addition to earning $9 million at the box office and marking a milestone in Steven Spielberg's fledgling career. Following his smash with E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL in 1982, Universal re-released DUEL in selected American cinemas.

— TV Guide


Thu April 9, 2015, 7:30 only, VAC Basement Auditorium (1B20)

USA, 1971, English, Color, 90min, PG, 35mm



10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cover art for Spring 2 2022
Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists